Molecular determinants of human red/green color discrimination

Neuron. 1994 May;12(5):1131-8. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(94)90320-4.


The human red and green color vision pigments are identical at all but 15 of their 364 amino acids, and yet their absorption maxima differ by 31 nm. In an extensive mutagenesis study, including a set of 28 chimeric proteins modeled after pigments in the color-deficient human population and an additional 30 single and multiple point mutants, the spectral difference between these 2 pigments is shown to be determined by 7 and only 7 amino acid residues. In going from the red pigment to the green pigment, the 7 residues are Ser116-->Tyr, Ser180-->Ala, Ile230-->Thr, Ala233-->Ser, Tyr277-->Phe, Thr285-->Ala, and Tyr309-->Phe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Color
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Exons
  • Genes, Synthetic
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Point Mutation*
  • Protein Structure, Secondary*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Retinal Pigments / biosynthesis
  • Retinal Pigments / chemistry*
  • Retinal Pigments / genetics
  • Spectrophotometry


  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Retinal Pigments